Communities need to provide their students more than one pathway to adult success. All students should be prepared to succeed in college if that is their choice, but high-quality career and technical options should also be available.
Even with a highly effective dropout prevention and intervention system, some students will fall off track, drop out, and need recovery options and alternative pathways to success. In 2011, the United States had 6.7 million young people aged 16 to 24 who were not in school, working or college graduates. Undoubtedly, some of them were living in your community. They are often referred to as disconnected or “opportunity youth,” and there are movements afoot to reconnect them with opportunities to further their education and find productive jobs and careers.
When developing a dropout recovery strategy for your community, you’ll find that one solution does not fit all students. Multiple programs and interventions must operate simultaneously to address the greatest number of students. Some of these young adults will go the GED route, others may find credit recovery programs that are computer-based, and still others may go into job-training programs that allow them to earn while they learn.
The goal is to provide a second chance for students who have left high school without a diploma and for secondary students who are significantly over-age and far from meeting the requirements of a high school diploma. A good beginning is to assess the number and needs of “opportunity youth” in your community, and then find ways to provide the opportunities they need. Including these young adults in the planning and assessment is critical
For an analysis of the challenge and, on page 8, an elegant chart of the solution pathways and options for recovering youth, read the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s policy report, “Youth and Work: Restoring teen and young adult connections to opportunity” http://www.aecf.org
For sample recovery strategies, see:
Building a Grad Nation, Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Crisis, Annual Update February 2013. Plank 10 of the Civic Marshall Plan details current efforts in dropout recovery.
The Dropout Crisis: Promising Approaches in Prevention and Recovery. From Jobs for the Future, examines strategies for communities to prevent and recover late high school dropouts. It looks at current practices, highlighting those successful in reducing perpetually high dropout rates and more systematic approaches. http://www.jff.org/publications/education/dropout-crisis-promising- approaches-prev/213
Disconnected Youth: Federal Action Could Address Some of the Challenges Faced by Local Programs that Reconnect Youth to Education and Employment, from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), identifies 39 solid programs that share a set of common
Return to Developing Early Warning and Recovery Systems Supported by Community Involvement program characteristics for reconnecting older youth to the education and employment pipeline. http://projectlaunch.promoteprevent.org/resources/disconnected-youth- federal-action-could-address-some-challenges-faced-local-programs- recon
Develop services that bring dropouts back to education.
YouthBuild programs involve collaboration among different community sectors. Low-income young people ages 16–24 work simultaneously toward their GED or high school diploma, learn job skills, and serve their communities by building affordable housing. http://www.youthbuild.org
Online learning is an emerging field that offers flexible options for both dropout prevention and recovery. For more information and to review research papers on online learning, see:
International Association for K-12 online Learning